Bombardier Finding Difficulty in Selling New C-Series Jet

By Kevin Belanger,
International Business Writer

Bombardier, a Canadian company well known for its development of trains and airplanes, is trying to sell its new C-series airplanes in the North American market, according to Reuters. The aerospace division of the company is especially well known for its smaller jets that mainly compete with small regional planes built by Brazilian aerospace company Embraer. Earlier in the year, Bombardier tried to sell a controlling interest in its aerospace division to major rival Airbus but Airbus chose to step away from the deal.

According to the Globe and Mail, the failure to close this deal has forced Bombardier to push even harder to find customers for its C-series planes. Part of the challenge Bombardier faces is the loyalty many airlines have to Airbus and Boeing, the two largest airplane manufacturers in the world. Bombardier currently competes with Embraer to be the third largest plane manufacturer in the world. The new C-series plane is designed to hold about 100 passengers, depending on configuration, and is intended for use on shorter routes by regional airlines. While sales have not been strong for the new plane, the Financial Times reports that the plane is the quietest plane in its class, which could be a draw for airlines.

Bombardier’s C-series has not received any orders in a year, which has hurt Bombardier stock and led to questions of the value of the aerospace division. Bombardier has not named any specific airlines that may be interested in the new series of planes. According to Reuters, Bombardier has been engaged in pitching the plane to Southwest Airlines, American Airlines. Air Canada is seen to be an obvious match for the C-series, as Air Canada and Bombardier are headquartered in the same neighborhood of Montreal. However, both Air Canada and American Airlines had no comment about a future deal to buy from Bombardier. A spokesman for Southwest Airlines stated that its customers should not expect to fly on a plane not built by Boeing, effectively showing that Southwest is not interested in purchasing the plane. As part of its low-cost business model, Southwest only flies Boeing 737s to keep its operating costs low.

Bombardier has received interest from two airlines in the United States. United Airlines has expressed interest in the new plane, according to the Financial Post. However, the terms of the deal have not been released by United beyond the fact that United will not purchase the planes unless it can reach a deal with its pilots union. United would like to use the plane on many of its shorter routes, which currently use older Bombardier jets. The airline hopes that the addition of new planes could help to draw pilots and resolve its contract disputes with pilots. The new planes would also allow United to turn some of its routes which it contracts to smaller airlines back to direct control of the airline.

JetBlue Airlines has also expressed some interest in the new airplane. JetBlue has previously expressed interest in flying only Airbus planes and currently flies a fleet of exclusively Airbus and Embraer planes.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 20th print edition.

Contact Kevin at
kevin.belanger@student.shu.edu

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